Coping with the loss of a loved one

What to do when a loved passes

The Passing of a Loved One

When a loved one dies, we’re suddenly saddled with emotions and grief, but we’re also responsible for accomplishing several tasks. If you’re a family member just passed, you have to take care of some critical items in order for the funeral to take place, which in turn allows for others to show their respects and share in the grieving process.

Before we get into the checklist of things to do, there are three equally important phone calls you should make: funeral home, cemetery and church/synagogue. Ideally, you can find somewhere that serves as an all-in-one location, like The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery and Funeral Services, where they’ll be able to serve as your funeral home, cemetery and religious representative.

When a Loved One Dies Checklist

When a family member passes, or another loved one, there are several things you should do as soon as possible.

  1. Get a Death Certificate

You might be surprised that this is the No. 1 thing on the list, ahead of notifying family and friends, but that’s just how important this one really is.

You must get a legal pronouncement of death in order to get a lot of other things done on this list. If there’s no doctor present or a hospice nurse, then call 911, which will bring paramedics that will take your loved one to an emergency where a doctor will pronounce their death. (If there is a “Do Not Resuscitate” document, make sure you have it available for when the paramedics arrive.)

  1. Notify Someone to Transport the Body

If paramedics aren’t called, and you have a death certificate, and no autopsy is needed, you can call a mortuary or a crematorium. They’ll come out to transport the body to the appropriate place and you can start the next steps.

  1. Notify Family and Friends

Rather than take on the full weight of calling all of your family members and friends, as well as your relative’s friends, consider calling a handful of them, and ask them to let others know.

  1. Let Executor Know

If there is an executor named in the will of the deceased, then notify them immediately, in order for them to start the process of getting the will accepted for probate. If you are the executor, then know that you’ll need to take the will to the appropriate government offices (city or county) to begin proceedings. An attorney should also probably be notified in order to make the transition of estate a smooth one.

  1. Contact a Funeral Home

When you make funeral arrangements, you’ll want to know if the body should be embalmed or cremated, whether it should be an open casket for viewing, what religious traditions should be performed and respected? This might already be taken into account when you let the mortuary know.

Again, using a funeral home that’s attached to a cemetery will help cut down on the number of steps you need to worry about.

  1. Notify Insurance Companies, Banks and Credit Cards

It’s important you have their death certificate available, and there might be different things you’ll have to do with each company in order to receive benefits. Even if you don’t have death certificates, it would be good to notify banks and credit cards so that they will have a record of the call, and they can choose to freeze the account until the death certificate is provided.

Did the deceased have investments? Handle them like you would when notifying a bank. Letters of testamentary might be necessary, too.

Pension providers, mortgage companies, loan providers and employee life insurance providers should be notified, too.

  1. Arrange Post-Funeral Gathering

Many times, families and friends will get together after a funeral to share stories and talk about the good times surrounding the life of their lost loved one.

Whether it’s a gathering at someone’s house or a neighborhood rec room, it’s good to iron this out before the funeral so that people will have a place to come offer their condolences afterward. Since friends and neighbors are always asking if there’s anything they can do to help, this is a perfect opportunity to take them up on it. They’ll most likely be happy to bring a covered dish or pick up food to bring over and leave. One of your close friends might even be able to handle the entire event, asking certain people to bring what’s needed.

  1. Call Utilities

Let the cable company, Internet Service Providers, cell phone and landline phone companies know about the death of one of their customers, so that they can discontinue service. However, wait a bit on canceling electric, gas and water, until their homes have officially changed hands and you’ve moved out their property.

  1. Notify the Government

The surviving spouse or children might be eligible to receive a one-time death benefit of $255 from the Social Security Administration, and survivor benefits for children under 16 are possible, too. Let the Veteran’s Administration know, too, if they were in the military service. You might qualify for VA benefits, too. Also, if they were a veteran, there are benefits afforded to their survivors, including assistance with the funeral and burial plot.

Use the “Forward Mail” service at the post office, which will send subscriptions, statements and other mail items you’ll want to know about in order to cancel them.

  1. Notify Their Employer

Let your family member’s employer know that they have passed. Obviously, it’s a courteous thing to do, so that their workmates are informed and the company can cover their work assignments. But also, the employer might be able to offer some help in other ways as you prepare for the funeral and burial.

  1. Contact Credit Bureaus

A person comes into this world and is handed a name that they take with them all the way until death, and to keep that name clean after death, contact credit bureaus to notify them of their death. This will help prevent identity theft after they’ve died. The executor should also request the final credit report for the deceased for records.

Knowing what to do after a loved one dies is important, but even if you’re not completely sure what to do, talking with the people at a funeral home, like The Gardens at Boca Raton Cemetery and Funeral Services, is smart because they’ve been through it all. They’ll help you make sure everything is taken care of.

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